A quick guide on how to make international friends
Are you living in your native country and feeling like something is missing? Let’s look at the big picture: you have friends, a comfy house or flat, maybe a stable job and an active social life, too. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? However, you might get to a point where your life appears to be stuck in a rut. The same people, the same topics of conversation and the same routine.
Going on holiday could be an option to break the cycle. However, you are all too aware of the fact that it would only provide a short-term answer to the issue. Moreover, not everyone has either the time or the money to afford a vacation.
Instead, there is a cheaper and more effective solution that could revolutionize your life: meet new foreign friends. In other words, you could start to open your mind to new cultures without actually having to travel. Expanding your social network with international connections could be beneficial both in the short and in the long run. Additionally, it could contribute to your personal development and change the way you see things.
Below, we have collected some of the advantages deriving from gaining foreign acquaintances:
1. Learn about other cultures and lifestyles
2. Discover your own country
Sometimes, we do not truly appreciate what surrounds us but eventually, thanks to people coming from other countries, we learn how to see things with fresh eyes and we actually discover places, details and landscapes we did not even notice before. This could also change your perspective about your own country and help you to start to appreciate its peculiarities.
3. You could learn or practice a new language: talking to foreign friends is definitely more rewarding than a language class. You enjoy the conversation, strengthen the bond between yourselves and inevitably improve your speaking and listening skills.
4. Get inspired by open-minded people
If you find foreign people in your country, they are likely to be slightly more open-minded than people who have never moved abroad before. Hearing about their stories and personal paths could be interesting and inspire you to make the big step of moving abroad too.
5. Expand your knowledge about travel and new places to visit.
When you do have the chance to travel, your connections may become your “travel guide”. Travel tips provided by a native are always the ones you should trust the most. You might explore places that are not even in the guidebooks and live authentic travel experiences with your foreign friend and their local friends.
At this point, we are aware of some of the perks of having international friendships. However, how do we find these friends?
Since we all have different personalities, we have prepared two types of solutions: one for the shy and one for the more brave among us as not everyone is ready to throw themselves into the crowd and start conversations with random strangers in a bar.
For the shy
a. Find a pen pal through several websites created with this specific purpose. You can connect with people coming from all over the world and share your day to day and common interests on a regular basis.
b. Download a language exchange app. App stores present several options for you to find language exchange partners and make language learning entertaining without the risks associated with blind dates and meet ups.
2. Identify your hobbies and join international groups. Finding people with common interests is a good starting point to interact with a new friend. For instance, you could volunteer, take a class or join a group sport club or event.
3. Hang out with co-workers or exchange students
a. If you work in a company with foreign employees, try to get to know them better and share your lunch break with them or invite them for after-work activities.
b. If you are still studying at university, you can join the “mentor program” and assist foreign students to survive the rigid bureaucratic procedures of your college and help them during the first days of their stay by showing them around.
For the brave
1. Step out of your house
o Language Exchange events
o Use the “Meet up” App to find the best activities, dine with strangers or just bump into people who are new in town and look for new friends exactly as you would normally do.
o Use WeChat English-speaking public accounts tend to be up-to-date with the latest events, expats meet-ups, networking activities in your city.
2. Flat sharing with foreigners
Another effective way to make connections is to share a flat with foreigners. This will surely help you to get talking with them and eventually to hang out with their international connections, too.
Whichever category you belong to, never forget these important aspects:
1. Language: Reach a sufficient level of English to enable and hold a conversation.
2. Smile: You will be surprised to know how easy it is to meet new people by simply changing your attitude
3. Culture: Get informed about other cultures. Intercultural differences can be very deep. Questions and gestures that look totally normal to you could be either rude or misleading for someone from another culture.
4. Be curious and ready to listen: Show your interest by asking questions and listening carefully to what the other person says.